Mulch fire safety

Mulch is combustible and can catch fire easily when smoking materials are discarded in it. Hundreds of fires start this way each year. Learn to prevent mulch fires.

Mulch regulation

Regulations for spreading mulch

  • Regulations prohibit the new application of mulch within 18" of combustible exteriors of buildings, such as wood or vinyl, but not brick or concrete.
  • Residential buildings with six units or less are exempt, but all homeowners may want to follow these safe practices. The regulation applies to all other buildings including commercial properties.

Regulations for storing and manufacturing mulch

  •  Mulch pile size is limited because large piles can spontaneously combust from the heat they generate.
  • There must be 30-feet between mulch piles. The distance prevents a fire in one from easily spreading to another or to a building.
  • Permits are required from the fire department wherever more than 300 cubic yards of mulch is produced or stored.

Additional Resources for Mulch regulation

Tips for landscapers, property managers, and building owners

  • Keep wood mulch 18" away from combustible exteriors of buildings such as wood or vinyl siding. Don't put mulch against a building.
  • Use materials such as pea stone or crushed rock for the first 18" as a barrier around the foundation of a building.
  • Provide proper receptacles for smoking materials at entrances to buildings (place at least 18" away from the building) and in designated smoking areas. Empty regularly and do not mulch these areas.
  • Train maintenance staff to watch for mulch fires, especially when mulch is fresh or weather is very hot and dry or windy.

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